When I made my first trip to Africa in 2000 with my wife, Diane we started on the island of Zanzibar. I remember seeing a Maasai in traditional dress with a Nokia cellphone clipped to his beaded belt. It was so unusual I tried to get a picture to sell to Nokia because I thought it would make a great ad campaign. During that trip I was also shooting this thing called film.
Flash forward to 2015 and now everyone in Africa has a cell phone. I can text our guides while they are out with our clients and I have Skype calls with my friends and business colleagues over there.
I remember a few years ago talking to a young Maasai warrior and asking him how the cell phone had changed his life. He told me that 5 years earlier when he was 13 he had to walk 5 miles to tell family in a distant village that a relative had died. Today he said it would take him 5 minutes to make the call. And I remember last year being stuck in sand in the middle of nowhere with Patrick and he being able to reach his Maasai friends who came out to help.
Today in the LA Times I read about an even more amazing use of technology. Meet Francis Kariuki who is the head of the Lanet-Umoja community in Kenya. He has become famous because he is constantly tweeting. But instead of letting people know what he ate for lunch he uses this technology to keep the people he is responsible for informed with things such as lost children, goats and stolen bicyles.
Chief Kariuki (who you can follow @Chiefkariuki – I am) is known throughout Kenya as the “Tweeting Chief” This is another example of how technology is changing the face of Africa.
And in addition to keeping in contact with the community he also tweets some great advice. My favorite is “If an animal can swallow you, don’t try to kiss it.” Great advice in 140 characters or less!